Lawmakers Say Education Reform Likely

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Lawmakers in charge of Mississippi's K-12 education say you can expect sweeping changes by the time the legislative session ends in a few weeks.

They play a major role in deciding what legislation will be considered as part of the state's reform in education. And if you ask them, they say changes are on the horizon for Mississippi schools.

"We want the changes. We want to see a real bang for our dollar," said Rep. John Moore of Brandon, House Education Committee chairman.

From charter school and prekindergarten acts to appointed superintendents and an educational package from the governor, Moore says those changes are right where they were expected to be when the session began.

"I feel very confident at this point that we will see, hopefully, all four of those major pieces of the puzzle that are implemented at this time," Moore said.

Implementation is just the first step. Senate Education chairman, Sen. Gray Tollison, says the traditional problem in Mississippi is the lack of execution and follow through when laws are put in place.

"We've got an education code that is filled with good intentions and the implementation was not carried out and here we are still at the bottom of the ladder in terms of K-12 education," said Tollison.

Both point to a status quo as being the major challenge in getting past existing problems plaguing the system.

"If we're going to move forward in the future, we've got to stop clinging to the past," Tollison said.

Despite opposition to some of the proposed changes, like charter schools, lawmakers in support of an overhaul say that's just what will happen.

"We are determined that we are going to change the way that the system is done and how it reacts to the children of the state of Mississippi," said Moore.

"We're our own worst enemy sometimes," said Tollison. "And we've got to change that attitude and it takes one step at a time doing it. If we can improve education, i think it can do a lot towards improving that attitude."

Lawmakers are expected to make final adjustments to the issues within the next couple of weeks. If passed, from there it will all become law with the governor's signature.